The 1st of March is St.David’s Day, the Patron Saint of Wales! This day is celebrated nationally in Wales and some traditions include wearing daffodils and leeks, as well as enjoy traditional Welsh dishes such as rarebit. To celebrate St. David’s Day we have put together some interesting facts all about the Welsh language and culture!
See our 10 facts about the Welsh language and culture below:
Welsh is one of the oldest languages in Europe.
Welsh evolved from Brythonic, the main language spoken in Wales, England and Southern Scotland when the Romans invaded in around 43AD. Welsh began to emerge as a distinctive language sometime between 400 and 700 AD as we can see from early Welsh poetry that originated around this period.
Welsh is spoken in Patagonia, South America.
Y Wladfa is a unique Welsh-language settlement in Patagonia, Argentina. In the early 19th Century, a group of 150 Welsh pioneers travelled nearly 8,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean to start a new life in South America after they felt like they were being persecuted for their language and culture in their motherland.
Wales is home to the longest place name in Europe.
Llanfairpwll-gwyngyllgogerychwyrndrob-wllllantysiliogogogoch is the name of a Welsh town on the island of Anglesey and is crowned with having the longest place name in Europe, and second longest in the world! The official name of the town is 58 letters long but is also called Llanfairpwll, or Llanfair PG for short.
The ‘unique’ sounds of the Welsh language are similar to some Native American languages.
The ‘Ll’ sound that appears in so many Welsh place names might be considered by many to be unique to Welsh but it actually appears in a few other languages, particularly Native American dialects as well as a few Chinese dialects.
Welsh is one of the fastest-growing languages on Duolingo in the UK.
Welsh was introduced to Duolingo over 6 years ago and ranked the fastest growing language in the UK in 2020 ahead of French, which came in second and Japanese, which came third that year. In 2021 Japanese overtook Welsh and claimed the top spot but Welsh still remained closely behind in second place.
Welsh uses the same word for some shades of blue and green
Similar to some other languages, when referring to colours Welsh uses a different approach than the 11-colour Western scheme and has terms that can be used to name a variety of shades and colours. The Welsh word ‘glas’ translates to ‘blue’ but is also used for things such as grass, leaves and the sea, as well as shades of grey such as silver.
The letters K, Q, V and Z do not appear in the Welsh alphabet at all.
The letters K, Q, V, X and Z are not included in the Welsh alphabet but are sometimes found in borrowed words and in technical words. When present, these letters have their English sounds, except for Z, which tends to be /s/ in North Wales.
29.1% of the Welsh population can speak Welsh.
According to the Annual Population Survey for the year ending March 2021, 29.1% of the population of Wales aged three or older can speak Welsh and over two-thirds of Welsh speakers agree that speaking Welsh is an important part of who they are.
The dragon isn’t the only symbol of Wales.
Daffodils and leeks are also national symbols. It is believed that the leek was originally the only symbol and the daffodil was gradually adopted afterwards. This may have been due to the similarity between both words. In Welsh, leek is cenhinen and daffodil is cenhinen Bedr (which literally translates as Peter’s leek).
Wales has more castles per square mile than any other country in Europe.
If you’re looking to explore some of history’s beautiful architecture then Wales is the perfect place to visit as it has the most castles per square mile than any other country in Europe!
There you have our 10 facts about the Welsh language, we hope you learnt something new! If you know any other facts about the Welsh language or culture, please share them with us in the comments below.
For more language facts, check out our other blogs below: